A Story about Airport Security


I try not to hate airports. I really do.

Hating is just not in keeping with the positive energy force for good that I want to be in life.

So I focus on the end goal of what the airport, or more accurately the airplane, is bringing. A new destination. An adventure. Or arriving home after a trip, which can be equally sweet.

But sometimes the airport gets the better of me. The stripping down and pulling oneself and one’s things apart to get through the security lines. Everyone except for the person watching the bags on the screen is in a terrible hurry. The tubs are bumping up against each other with the people behind you trying to shove theirs onto the conveyer belt. My tubs are rolling even as I take off one last scarf or belt. I toss valuables carelessly in a tub that I spend the rest of my vacation guarding like a hawk because in airport security, everything is revealed. Laid bare. Usually someone has to physically scan my hair because the dreads are thick. Or perhaps they are a red flag.

Through the years, I have learned that arriving insanely early, smiling, breathing deeply and maintaining a positive attitude helps me land at my gate still excited to be traveling, instead of wondering why I ever bother to walk out my front door.

I know that sounds crazy because I am at this very moment sitting in paradise, and how could I possibly have wondered if it was worth it to brave airports to be here? But when I am in an airport I think about where I could have got in the same amount of time in my car, with all my things in tact, with my belt, scarf and shoes on the entire time.

I think I do this because when I am in a car, I am strangely able to maintain the illusion that I am the master of this adventure, captain of this ship. I can tell it where to go. I am in control.

Let me tell you a little story about being out of control.

Five hours into our long haul flight to Mauritius, somewhere over Africa, I pulled a book out of my bag to read. And just before I closed the flap back over my satchel, I thought,

“How strange. There does not appear to be a laptop in the slot for the computer.”

I will spare you the searching under seats and in overhead bins that followed. It took me about twenty minutes to confirm that my computer was not with me. And about ten more to decide that it had probably not been stolen in the airport while my bag was hanging on my shoulder.

I spent the remaining six hours of our flight like this:


Panic that I had lost my computer, obviously.

Tears thinking of all the writing not yet uploaded to the Internet sitting on my computer.

Lamenting what an idiot I am, followed by lots of ugly self chastising about how I should not be left alone with important things, much less be trusted to travel alone to Africa with a small child. (This phase of the journey = Not pretty)

I asked Simon to pray with me. To pray for me. It may have been the five hour looping of The Lego Movie, but he was really calm.

After lots of praying and crying and panicking I remembered.

Gratefulness is always the antidote for despair.

It sounds so trite but it is so ridiculously true. And because I have experienced this truth over and over again, I got out my little blinking phone and pulled up a new notes page and through gritted teeth, I made a list. A familiar listing of what I have to be grateful for:

Extra seat on this plane. Simon and I can stretch out and enjoy the ride.

Tears. So many tears cried in the dark on an airplane over my lost computer. And so many tears this year. Surely they are taking me somewhere, all these tears. And I know that Jesus sees every one.

Warm sunshine waiting for us tomorrow. And gorgeous beaches. And new adventures if I would but have them.

Lots of the things on that computer have been uploaded to the Internet. Lots.

Weeping for the ones that have not will make me more disciplined about backing up my writing. Maybe.

After making a list, I began to recite mantras of gratefulness. Reluctantly.

Had you been there on that plane in the wee hours before landing, you could not have even heard the small voice over the hum of the airplane, a crazy lady staring out the window into the dark and saying,

Thank you Jesus for the sun that will come up soon.

Thank you Jesus for my sweet Simon, sleeping on the floor, healthy and happy.

Thank you for Taido, for Cole, for Mary Polly, for Ben.

Thank you for this trip.

Thank you for the chance to make new friends.

Thank you for rest, for light, for being constant when I am wavering.

Thank you for perspective.

Thank you for food to eat and clean water to drink.

Thank you for peace.

And then a little hope. Hope that my computer and I might one day reunited. Hope that I would enjoy a week without it, letting go of the work that would not get done. Hope that this mistake would not consume the rest of our time away.

And as usual, the very act of being thankful and opening my heart to peace became the channel God used to wash hope and peace over me.

And now over halfway through our trip to Mauritius, I can affirm that a little hope can be all mercy and grace. We have had a wonderful time and I have enjoyed the chance to write only in a paper journal. And to leave this space quiet all week.

As for being reunited with my computer, there is even hope there. Apparently I’m not the first person to have ever left a laptop in a security tub in London and a procedure exists by which I might retrieve it again when we fly back through on our way home.

What kind of crazy wonder of mercy that would be!

Do make me feel better and tell me you’ve left something very valuable in an airport!!